It’s a common practice for deer hunters to make themselves as scent-free as possible before heading to their stand, and over the past couple of decades a whole category of gear has sprouted up to help with that task.
Here are some tips for staying scent-free in the woods:
1) Use laundry detergent made specifically for keeping hunting clothes scent-free. Products like Dead Down Wind and Scent-A-Way are good choices. DIY versions involving using baking soda.
2) Dry your hunting clothes outside. The scent of dryer sheets lingers, even after you’ve stopped using them for several cycles of clothes, and hanging your clothes indoors will only capture indoor smells like fried bacon and cleaning products.
3) Once dry, put hunting clothes in an oversized, sealable bag or plastic container. It’s also a good idea to add odorless dryer sheets like those made by the same companies mentioned above.
Keep the clothes in this bag or container until you are in the woods, out of your vehicle and ready to walk to your stand.
It sounds a little extreme, but if you’re wearing your hunting clothes while pumping gas on the way to the woods or while stopping at the Biskit Shak for coffee and a sausage sandwich, your odorless efforts are all for naught.
4) Stay scent-free anytime you’re near your stand, even if you aren’t hunting. Many hunters check their trail cameras throughout the week — sometimes even the day before they are going to hunt.
Where legal, they also fill or check feeders, salt-blocks and other attractants placed near their hunting stands.
Doing these activities without taking the same precautions as when planning to sit in their stand is the downfall of many hunters who just can’t understand why deer quit coming around.
Jonathan Phillips of Pittsboro, N.C., said going scent-free while working in the woods is no more difficult than it is when getting in the stand, and it’s just as important.
“Some people think I’m too extreme when I check my trail-cams and when I put out corn, but aside from using Dead Down Wind, I wear rubber boots and latex gloves anytime I’m in the woods — whether it’s hunting or checking trail-cams,” Phillips said. “People don’t realize how many things they touch with their hands when they go into the woods, but it’s just a natural thing to touch fence posts, tree branches and vines.
“All that stuff holds your scent for way longer than most people realize.”